Xi Jinping's 'bring on the criticism' brings little more than scepticism
Late Thursday night Xi Jinping sent a message to the country the Communist Party welcomes criticism from all non-Party members.
— Xinhua News Agency (@XHNews) 2013年2月7日
If this seems unlikely, note also that Xi is about to send away his first dissident to 14 years in prison and just Wednesday one woman appears to have disappeared shortly after posting on Sina Weibo her computer had been seized by police for making fun of Xi Jinping's goofy online PR team.
Twitter user @paleylin held incommunicado for over 24 hours so far for poking fun at Xi Jinping's fans group on Weibo @学习粉丝团.
— Yaxue Cao (@YaxueCao) 2013年2月7日
— Yaxue Cao (@YaxueCao) 2013年2月7日
Trying their best not to think back to the Hundred Flowers Campaign, here's some of what microbloggers have said online in reply to Xi's invitation:
Journalist Chen Jieren: The [Communist Party] general secretary's words are profound, but will the relevant departments take the initiative to turn them into action and unlock those weibo accounts of people who were silenced for speaking the truth?
China Newsweek senior writer Zhang Wen: I recommend all democratic parties take up the CCP chairman's call, and cast off the "window-dressing" label given them by foreign media. Each party could start by opening its own microblog account to keep [the Communist Party] in check online, being brave by putting its own voice out there. Also, relax, games like "drawing the snakes out of the caves" won't work in today's China!
Film director Fang Fang: This petty, small-minded guy who wrought every sort of revenge imaginable suddenly says he wants tolerance for sharp criticism. This means one of two things: He's either looking for excuses and targets to continue exacting revenge, or else it's going to be his prisons that start "tolerating" the people who offer sharp criticism.
Advertising company president Fan Jiankang: You can see Xi is far more intelligent than Mao was, or at least he learned a lesson from Mao. Mao's anti-Rightist campaign not only left people afraid to speak out, the result being not enough steel or grain, but the thousands of cadres targeted in the Socialist Education Movement forced Mao out of the centre. This led to his mobilisation of the masses to root out capitalist roaders within the Party, pitching society into chaos for ten years. If Xi wants to avoid getting forced out by corrupt forces within the Party, he has to let those from the other parties do the talking.
Lawyer Duan Wanjin: Mr. Xi, I was encouraged today to hear you say citizens and other civic groups can sharply criticise the ruling party. Sharp is a good word, but you would be better served to let those at the Supreme Court give it a legal definition and clearly define the difference between "inciting subversion" and "sharp criticicism". Even as a lawyer, I myself don't know where the line exists between the two; there's far too much overlap and people get sentenced arbitrarily as a result.
Venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee: Will you stop silencing and shutting down microblog accounts?
Economics professor Xu Xiaonian: Will you stop censoring books and media reports?
Academic Chen Tongkui: Will you stop press censorship?
Academic Wang Xiaoyu: Can you not delete the comments on this microblog post?
Real estate magnante Ren Zhiqiang: Will you stop criminalising people's speech and sentencing them to re-education through labour?
Academic Cui Weiping: Will you put an end to police harassment [of activists and netizens]?
Writer Liu Di: If he really wants people to believe the Party can tolerate sharp criticism, there's a big group he can give amnesty right now.
Weibo post on Xi's urge for the party to be more tolerant of criticism has only 292 comments. where did the rest go? twitter.com/Yuxin_Gao/stat…
— Helen Gao (@Yuxin_Gao) 2013年2月7日